Well, today was one of those cases where my first day was spread over several days! I got a bit preoccupied with other things this week, but I had some time to devote to the Black Gate.
THe thing that surprised me most about the game when I began playing it was how the graphics of this one have aged so much better than its immediate predecessors--Ultima VI seems to bright and pixelated, whereas somehow Ultima VII, especially the grass and the roads, does not have this issue so much. The only downside is the character portraits, which are very tiny in Ultima VII compared to VI, and awful compared to Serpent Isle. Graphically, I think the biggest improvement is the full-screen game, without any information scroll or other stuff on the sides to shrink my view of the world.
The conversation tree system is much easier on the brain than Martian Dreams, which was so full of text that it was pretty touh to remember all the keywords while also getting the gist of what the person was saying--Although there is more realism to typing in words, I think I prefer Ultima VII's style.
The primary shocker about Ultima VII versus its predecessors, though, is the immersiveness of its enviroment. The clouds and the rain looks really good on-screen. and the atmospheric effects like birds tweeting and the sound of wind are excellent as well. The most important improvement is the ability of NPC's to interact with their world in an enormous number of ways--cooks moving stuff around and cooking in the kitchen, people calling for more food in the pub, Batlin's Fellowship hall exploding after being rigged with powder kegs...Wait, that was my doing...
As far as what I've done so far is concerned, I got some clues to the murders in Trinsic, and solved a serpent venom theft in Paws. So far my impression is that most of the fellowship members are arrogant bastards, and annoying to boot, but many of the non-Fellowship people are also not that nice. I headed to Britain, but only talked to a few people--including a fish and chips salesman who says he just painted his totally invisible wagon--but dashed up the castle instead, when I realized Britain is so thoroughly packed with people that I won't be able to talk to them all in one sitting. British wonders who sent the moongate that took me to Trinsic, and he also thinks his subjects are unhappy. I also had to change the diaper on a baby in the nursery, but the caretaker there was terrified of me when I used the dirty diaper on her. I also upset a stablehand when I dumped a big bucket of blood on him.
I think my next hour or two will be spent in Britain, exploring, and possibly chatting up Rudyom in Cove about blackrock. The game did crash on me once, in Britain, which was disconcerting--it just locked up as I walked. I hope this is not a common theme.